Friday, February 5, 2010

Potty Coaching 101

Okay, so this post is for all of you mommies and daddies out there that have (or will have) a little one who will one day use the toilet! Those who have gone through the process (or been around it) won't mind either, but for everyone else here is your warning: I use words like pee and poo to describe what goes on here. There. You've been forewarned.
The day before Brielle turned 2 she pooped in the toilet. It was a breakthrough. She had been going potty for almost 3 weeks in the toilet, and though she’d pooped once (totally by accident) she had previously spent a week of tummy torment and fear of going in the toilet (not to mention restless nights). Then, Breakthrough! And the rest is history…………
Many people have asked me HOW? How did you do it? So, before it gets too far from my memory (it’s been 3 months now and I’ve already jumbled some of the details) I thought I’d share.
First of all, I didn’t do anything. Brielle did it. She told me she wanted to (I paid attention) and I just helped her get there. I never used the words “potty training,” it was much more like “coaching” or “cheerleading.” And I never saw it coming. I didn’t plan to coach her. It happened totally by accident. I’d already introduced the potty to her and she’d sat on a few times. No pressure. Just introducing it. But when her 3 year old cousin came over for the day and used the big toilet she didn’t miss a thing. She asked to use it after he was done. I inwardly rolled my eyes (if that’s possible) and put her up there. She went...then maybe she tried it again that day? I’m not sure. I remember not really caring. It reminds me of when I was in labor with her… I didn’t really pay attention. But I do remember being surprised, so the next day (a Friday) I took the diaper off of her and let her run in a t-shirt and tights. She told me all day when she felt a drizzle that she had to go “peepee toilet.” (At the time she said, “OH! OH! OH!” while grabbing herself.) I took her every time. We rushed it like it was an emergency. This is kind of the fun part. She immediately went and we cleaned up with a “pat pat pat” then washed our hands. She was always allowed to go right back to what she was doing, or whatever toy she was playing with if she desired. I think this is important. We had to change tights because of the drizzle and part of the day we went without them. I was baffled this was happening. I was so excited that Will & the boys would be home the next day to witness this phenomenon that our 23 month old was displaying!
But then Saturday came and she didn’t behave the same way. I asked a few times, but she’d made it clear she wasn’t interested. Maybe because 3 of her favorite other family members were home, who knows? This is when an idea dawned on me! If she isn’t going to tell me, she is certainly going to be in her cloth diapers only. This would help her to “feel” when she wet and familiarize herself with the feeling of going. So that is what I did, and Sunday went the same way as Saturday. Whatever.
Monday morning came and I decided to try it again. I put her back in tights only. Sure enough, she told me, “oh! oh! oh!” Back to it. Every day that she was interested (most week days that we were home) she was in tights or nothing and we followed the same routine about going. Consistency is crucial, honestly. And it helped that we hung out together most of the time during these days. The first two weeks she pooped in her diaper (minus that one accident in the toilet - lol) But when we had completed week two she wasn‘t going anywhere……..which was traumatic for the entire family, honestly. At several moments I just told her, “it’s okay sweetie! Just go in your diaper! It’s fine…” But she wouldn’t. I put her potty in the kitchen. This may feel unsanitary to some of you, but I assure you that moms everywhere who read this have already gotten over it. It wasn’t near where we cook or eat. I was doing something at the counter while she rushed in and I helped her sit down, then went back to the counter. This was not normal, usually she went potty right away…so I helped her wipe and get down right after; there was never a need to “sit” on the toilet. But this time I tried it because of her tummy trauma. I continued to pretend to be busy at the counter while she worked things out on the toilet and I watched her out of the corner of my eye. It took a while, but when she was done, I admit that I could hardly contain my excitement!!!! We had a PARTY of sorts! Praise Jesus!
We still use pull-ups when we go out for the most part. They just make me feel safer if we can’t make it to the toilet fast enough. I doubt I’d ever put a toddler in pull-ups who didn’t tell me that they needed to go potty. I rarely ask Brielle unless I see her hold herself, then I ask as a reminder, but 90% of the time she tells me she has to go. It is time consuming how often she goes! But it’s far better than changing diapers!
Another thing we did was watch Elmo’s Potty Time a few times during those three weeks (she still likes it occasionally).
I jotted down a few tips right after we were done and I will paste them below. By some standards Brielle still isn’t completely potty trained. She can’t pull down or up her pants and she definitely cannot properly wipe herself! But to me she qualifies. She tells me she has to go, and consistently pees and poos in the toilet. Good enough. No. That’s BETTER than I expected at this stage in the game.
Here are my tips:
1) do not care if the child uses it or not (don’t REALLY care anyway)
2) don’t get frustrated if there are messes to clean during this process
3) don’t waste money on expensive pull ups
4) praise/ do not scold; accidents do happen
5) don’t put a lot of thought into the whole process. relax and child will relax too.
6) Never try to train a child who is not interested. It won’t work; it may have a reverse effect!
7) Remember, that you are just the “helper” in this process. You “help” by providing a little toilet (or seat on big toilet). You “help” by taking them to the toilet. You “help” wipe and sing the potty song! You are the loving guide, the patient instructor, the humble servant, and the cheerleader.
If you do it any other way, you will get frustrated and your child might relapse. It’s possible. If you have other great tips, please add a comment!


Anna said...

Wooohoo!! This is awesome!It's so great to see that it worked. It's weird because "potty training" used to be my least favorite part of raising with Natalie I have had a strong feeling/instinct to do exactly what you did with Brielle! Freedom to just live and let live..haha :)

The Tripp Family said...

yay! Zoe's is getting there. She likes to sit on the potty all the time, and has gone a few times. Like you said, I'm in NO rush. We did the same thing with Joshua, started around 16 months. He was potty trained before he was 3, but it really wasn't stressful. We just took our time. We love the Elmo Potty Time video too :)

Beth said...

Thanks so much for sending me this link. I plan to print this out to read over a few times this week. Tomorrow Nevaeh is going back to wearing her panties and I will be the best "helper" I can. I'm not sure if she is really interested or not, but I guess time will tell for sure. I love the way you write, it reads just like you sound.

jenna said...

Thanks Beth! I would add that if I wasn't using cloth diapers that I would buy plastic training pants (Target 2 for $6) to put over the underwear just to prevent less mess, and to allow them to still "feel" what was happening. Just remember...she's ultimately in control and will lead :) Thanks for your comments on my writing!